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How do I interpret my circumstances?

May 9, 2009

Until I finish up all my work for the semester 12 days from now (but who’s counting?) I don’t think I can offer anything more insightful that others’ quotes. I am about finished with my paper on Phil. 1:27-30, and thought this quote from Dr. Black from Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek, was particularly helpful:

Paul wrote not merely to express his gratitude for the Philippians’ gift (1:3-11) or to inform them of his circumstances (1:12-26), but to affect them—to challenge them to certain standards of attitude and behavior.

I love how you see that even when Paul informs the Philippians of his circumstances, he evaluates everything through the lens of the gospel.  As he tells them of his imprisonment, rather than sulking he evaluates it from the perspective of the gospel’s advance. He writes this in 1:12-14:

12 I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. 13 All the soldiers here, and everyone else too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. 14 Not only that, but most of the Christians here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah. 

There is tremendous application here. Do I understand everything that happens to me through the lens of the gospel? Am I able to understand that the whole story is larger than present afflictions? Can I ever realize that priority #1 is not my own happiness?

This has been a very difficult semester for us, but we have learned much, and it has allowed much of what I’ve learned through studying Phil. 1:27-30 to come alive.

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